A DuBoisian Proposal

THINKING ABOUT RACE (February 2011). One goal of the Working Group on Racism is to deepen our understanding of what white antiracism means and how to go about it. A professor of philosophy at Gustavus College in Minnesota, Lisa Heldke, takes a close look at what a predominantly white (what she terms a “persistently white”) school or college might do to create a “truly antiracist place.”  She takes inspiration from W.E.B. DuBois’ call for “an education [that] can actively contribute to the creation of a more just society.”  From her article:

“… at the institutional level, there is no discussion of white racism running parallel to the discussion of the need for diversity and multiculturalism.  …. [This] seems to suggest that ‘the problem’ for the historically Euroamerican college is simply and clearly a lack of diversity; the solution is for people of color to come there.

“Actually, racism does enter the diversity conversation, but sideways, indirectly.  Sometimes, at College X, efforts to diversity seem motivated by a fear that focusing on anything else – say, on white students’ attitudes – will be, or be perceived as, racist.  Of course, actively resisting efforts to diversify would constitute racism.  But simply seeking to diversity the campus population … definitely does not take the next step, namely actively cultivating an antiracist climate.”  To read her suggestions on how to cultivate that climate, see the  full 14-page paper at:  www.american-philosophy.org/archives/past_conference_programs/pc2004/submissions/dubois.htm.

Or email eduverlie@jhu.edu for the Word version.

The Baltimore Yearly Meeting Working Group on Racism meets most months on the third Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, usually at Bethesda Friends Meeting or Friends Meeting of Washington.  If you would like to attend, either on a regular or a drop-in basis, please contact clerk Elizabeth DuVerlie at eduverlie@jhu.edu.

NOTE:  Friends who wish to comment on this or any other “Thinking About Race” items, may do so at this website: http://racismwg.bym-rsf.net.  The BYM Web Manager has set this up as a kind of blog. You will first need to register by emailing webmanager@bym-rsf.net.

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